Egyptian security forces Saturday attacked a town where members of a family convicted of criminal activity have taken at least 80 people hostage. One clan member said 20 people had been killed.
Officials were unable to confirm the report of deaths in the raid, in which security forces used rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns against buildings where members of the Awlad Hanafi family were holed up.
Security sources said the attack, which lasted about six hours, destroyed seven to eight houses in Nakhila, where 37 members of the Hanafi family have been under siege for nearly a week. Gunmen set fire to 13 homes.
An Interior Ministry statement said police arrested 15 people and seized some weapons and large quantities of drugs in the raid. Yasser Kassem Hanafi told Reuters by telephone from Nakhila that 20 people had been killed during the assault and that 30 were wounded.
About 6,000 security personnel and 150 armored trucks have surrounded the town on the Nile, about 220 miles south of Cairo.
Izzat Mohammed Hamid, who is leading the band of about 50 gunmen, told Associated Press on Friday that his men were holding 500 civilians hostage, but police put the figure at 80.
The men had been sentenced in absentia to as much as life terms for crimes including drug and weapons dealing.